Frequently Asked Questions
I’ve never used frozen before. How does it work?
The semen is in Europe. We take your order and payment, and then import the semen. After its arrival in the USA, it is sorted into doses and sent to you or your veterinarian or technician. When ordering semen from Europe, it's important to understand that there are often glitches that delay shipments and make it difficult to predict the exact time of arrival. It's best to wait until you know the semen will ship before sending your mare to a clinic.
We also keep a good selection of semen in stock.
How many straws are in a dose?
Most frozen semen doses are contained in three or four 0.5 ml straws. But, it can be contained in from one to eight straws. The number of straws per dose varies according to the collection. The main thing is that you will receive a full breeding dose, as it was provided by the supplier. Semen is also sometimes packaged in a single 5.0 ml straw, about the size of a soda straw. There are also a few doses comprised of tiny 0.25 ml straws. The most important thing is the number of motile sperm post-thaw.
What is post-thaw motility?
Post-thaw motility refers to the number of normal, active or forwardly motile sperm that have survived the freezing process and are available to impregnate your mare. Sometimes sperm are alive, but they are deformed or swim in circles or not actively, and thus are ineffective in penetrating an egg.
What is a good post-thaw motility?
A 35% post-thaw motility is considered “fair,” but many pregnancies have been achieved with significantly fewer sperm. Most of our stallions have post-thaw rates of between 35 and 75%, but we have some stallions on our list with post-thaw rates of 85 to 95%. Many stallions with lower post-thaw rates still have good conception rates. Fertility is always more important than motility, though motility is often a good indicator of fertility.
What is a breeding dose?
A breeding dose contains enough forwardly motile post-thaw sperm to provide a reasonable chance at a conception. The World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses minimum standard is 225 million forwardly motile sperm, after thawing. A breeding dose commonly contains 600 to 800 million sperm, before thawing, but can contain up to a billion sperm.
Is a single 0.5 ml straw a dose?
Not in the opinion of most experts. Even if the number of post-thaw sperm is 250 million or more, many of the sperm are damaged by the intense compression needed to pack enough viable sperm into a single straw. Furthermore, even if there are enough motile sperm post-thaw, there is not enough volume of seminal fluid to get it where it needs to go!
Can I split a breeding dose?
Some veterinarians and technicians prefer to use half a dose before ovulation and half a dose after ovulation. This is the only time splitting a dose is acceptable. It is not fair to your mare, veterinarian or technician, or the supplier of the frozen semen to use less than one dose per cycle. Sometimes, two doses per cycle are used, as in the case of a timed insemination protocol. When using a deep uterine insemination technique, where the semen is placed at the utero tubal junction, or when using sex-sorted semen, fewer numbers of sperm is acceptable.
If I buy two doses, and get my mare in foal with one dose, can I use the extra dose on another mare?
Yes. You may use the semen as you wish, in most cases.
How long will it take for me to the semen to get here?
The semen is usually returned to the USA within two to three weeks. Then allow approximately three days for the semen to be sorted and ready to ship.
How long will it take for me to receive my semen once it is in the USA?
We ship to our clients in the order in which we receive their shipping and container contracts with requested shipping dates. If you have a specific time you'd like to receive your semen, please get your contract to us as soon as possible, and you will be sure to have your semen on hand for breeding. The “shipping and container contract” must be filled out and returned before shipment.
Can you store the semen for me?
We store semen at no charge through July 31st of the year purchased. We do not offer longterm storage. Semen purchased through registry auctions must be shipped by July 31st of the year purchased, or it will be returned to stock. No exceptions.
How much does shipping cost?
Domestic shipping is $325, which includes pre-paid, roundtrip shipping. Canadian shipping is $100 per order. See our Shipping Services page for details.
Are there any other costs involved in purchasing semen?
No. The cost of the semen, and shipping are the only costs. There is no tank rental or nitrogen fee, and no extra charge for using your credit card, for handling, processing documents or consultations.
Why do some places offer the same dose for less?
Some semen brokers engage in the unethical practice of selling partial doses. SES always sells full doses, containing the same number of straws per dose that the suppliers sell us as a dose. The cost of the euro at the time a broker purchases semen has an effect on pricing.
How do I know how many straws are supposed to be in a dose?
If you are in doubt that you are receiving a full dose, ask the semen broker to supply you with a copy of the inventory sheet he or she received with the semen. It clearly states the number of straws per dose for each collection. If a broker refuses to supply you with this information, shop elsewhere.
How many doses do I need?
We suggest at least two doses per mare, when using one dose per cycle. (If you were breeding your mare live-cover, how many cycles would you give her?) When using the timed insemination protocol splitting an eight-straw dose and using four straws with each of the two inseminations per cycle is acceptable. Splitting smaller doses is not a “best” practice. Don't forget--foals conceived from those "extra" doses can also be registered.
How do I know the semen I receive is from the stallion I ordered?
The straws are clearly marked with the stallion's name. All the stallions have been DNA tested. Parentage testing of the foal will verify this information.
Is there a live-foal guarantee?
No. We buy the semen with no live-foal guarantee, and that is how we sell it to you. Though it may seem risky, the fact that you may register all resultant foals from the semen you purchase, makes up for the lack of a live-foal guarantee. A live-foal guarantee does not really guarantee you a live foal anyway. It simply guarantees you can pay more booking, board, collection, shipping and veterinary costs, until you hopefully get a foal. If you never get a live foal, you do not get your money back. Considering the higher costs associated with live and fresh-cooled breeding, frozen semen, in the long run, really is the most cost-effective breeding method. The best chance for getting your mare in foal comes with using stallions with a known good conception rates.
What is the conception rate using frozen semen?
According to the Equine Research Centre at Guelph, Ontario, Canada, as well as E. L. Squires of the Colorado State University reproduction program, the conception rate with frozen semen is now the same as live cover. Of course, there are many variables that affect conception rates, including semen quality, the expertise of the inseminator and the reproductive status of the mare. There are many variables which can make a stallion's conception rate seem better or worse than it actually is. We hope you'll use the Conception Database to research your choices, and also contact us for information that may not be reflected on the database. In fairness to our clients and to our suppliers, we like to communicate with you personally, to discuss what we know about each stallion in a balanced and fair manner. There are often rumors floating around, many based on secondhand information, which have unfairly damaged stallions' careers. We disseminate only firsthand information.
Can I trust semen quality or conception rate information posted to the internet?
Not necessarily. Though some of the information may be accurate, we have observed several high-conception stallions unfairly denounced as poor frozen semen sires on the web. There are many factors that can affect semen quality, most notably handling by the broker and the inseminator and the reproductive status of the mare.
How do I know that the semen quality will be good?
There are many variables that can affect the quality of frozen semen. The semen we obtain from Europe has been collected, processed and handled by skilled professionals. We also handle the semen according to accepted practices, insuring you of the finest semen quality obtainable. When it comes to our attention that a stallion produces sub-standard frozen semen, we will remove him from our list.
How do I know which stallions have the best quality semen?
Please use the Conception Database. If the stallion you're interested in is not there, or seems to have poor results, we may have additonal information to share. When purchasing a stallion's semen for the first time, we query the supplier as to the semen quality and whether or not the stallion has foals from frozen semen. We recommend that you never risk more than you can afford to lose when purchasing semen from an unproven stallion, though most will turn out to be good frozen sires.
Does lesser quality semen mean I shouldn't breed to a stallion I am highly interested in?
No. New deep uterine and ICSI techniques and the increased expertise of inseminators means that even sub-standard semen can achieve an acceptable pregnancy rate. But, when using semen of lower quality it is recommended that you use a highly experienced veterinarian and a mare that has previously conceived with frozen semen.
What factors can affect post-thaw motility?
If the semen is improperly handled or thawed, the post-thaw motility can be drastically affected. This is why we provide concise information about handling and thawing to your veterinarian or technician when we ship the semen to them. Frozen semen should never be exposed to thawing conditions for more than three seconds, or cellular damage may occur. There is more information about handling and storing frozen semen on the website’s “information” page.
How is frozen semen stored?
Frozen semen is stored in a tank in liquid nitrogen at a temperature of minus 360-degrees Farenheit.
How long can frozen semen be stored and still be viable upon thawing?
It should keep indefinitely. The Hanoverian State Stud in Celle, Germany has achieved a conception with semen frozen 30 years before.
What should I or my vet or tech do if the semen arrives in thawed condition?
Call us immediately so we can file an insurance claim. The semen is insured only until it is delivered in frozen condition, at which time it becomes their responsibility. If delivery is not made for any reason, the insurance is void. You must return the unopened straws to us to file a claim.
How can I increase my chances for conception when using frozen semen for the first time?
Purchase enough semen from a stallion with a proven frozen semen conception rate. Use a veterinarian or technician with proven success using frozen semen. Use a mare in good reproductive health and, if possible, one that has conceived with frozen semen before.
Best practices for achieving a conception with frozen semen:
Inseminate within six hours post ovulation.
Don't inseminate on a transitional cycle.
Don't inseminate on a foal heat; mares often get in foal on foal heat breedings, but the live foal rate from foal heat conceptions is only 30 to 35%.
What about the timed insemination protocol?
If there is no egg present to fertilize, why put expensive, no guarantee frozen semen in a mare? Sure, she may ovulate after being given an ovulating agent, or the semen may time out before she does, meaning that dose was wasted. And whether the egg has already been fertilized or not, the vet or tech is still going to come back 12 hours later and put in more semen. Which dose worked, and which dose was wasted? Mares are also know to regress follicles, so it's always best to inseminate within six hours after insemination. Sometimes the timed protocol may be your only option, such as when you're breeding at home using a mobile vet, or you have a foal that you don't want to send to a clinic. Many mares get in foal with the timed protocol, but, the potential waste of semen/money exists when using this method.
Should I use frozen semen on a maiden mare?
Though a maiden mare represents something of an "unknown" quantity, if she has not recently been in hard training, is not too old and has passed a reproductive soundness exam, she has a very good chance of conceiving with frozen semen. We know of 19, 21 and 23 year old maiden mares that have conceived on one dose.
What about documents for registration of my foal?
Most registries no longer require stallion certificates, but instead have a frozen semen form you can download. If your registry does require a certificate, just get in touch and we'll supply you with what you need.
Who is responsible for filing the documents for registration?
You are! Please check with the registry with which you intend to register your foal before you breed, to make sure you can meet all their requirements.
Which registries can my foal be registered with?
Before breeding, determine with which registries your mare and the stallion you intend to use are approved. A foal is entered into the registry its dam is approved by. Mares can be inspected and approved by more than one registry, but the foal can only be registered with one. The stallion must also be approved for use within that registry. In most cases, but not always, the approval of the European registry transfers to the USA.
Can a mare be approved by more than one registry?
Yes, but she can only have one set of registry papers. A mare that is registered Holsteiner can be approved by and have foals registered with Hanoverian, Oldenburg, etc.
How do I know which registries the stallion is approved for?
On each stallion’s page on the SES website, below his pedigree, there is a list of the registries for which he is approved in Europe. It is likely he is also approved by the daughter registry in the USA, but not always. Check before you breed! Many stallions continue to be presented to more registries, so approvals can change.
How is a stallion approved?
By being inspected and licensed at a stallion licensing and then completing a stallion performance test. Some stallion tests have more significance than others, due to the length of the test and other factors. Stallions can also be approved based upon their performance record.